Written by Larry Limpf
January 28, 2011
The Woodmore school board and administration plan to devote much of a forum Monday night to explaining the district’s financial status to residents and to listen to the concerns residents have about district operations, says John Fernbaugh, superintendent.
The forum will be held Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. in the gym of Woodmore Elementary School.
“We want to show our people the status of Woodmore schools, particularly the financials and what we’re facing and what’s driving our costs,” Fernbaugh said. “We want to clear up any misconceptions.”
Board members last week took a preliminary step to placing a levy on the ballot in May, requesting the Sandusky County auditor certify millage amounts for a possible emergency levy. The board’s request asks for millage sufficient to generate $450,000, $550,000, or $600,000 annually.
Fernbaugh said the Woodmore administration is estimating it would take 2.99 mills, 3.75 mills, and 3.9 mills respectively to generate those revenue streams.
Voters rejected a 2.99-mill, 5-year emergency levy on the November 2010 ballot.
The loss of that potential revenue, coupled with an anticipated loss of about $200,000 in federal stimulus funds by the end of the current fiscal year and a proposed cut in state funding in the next biennium budget of about $335,000, have Woodmore officials projecting a deficit by July 1, 2012 unless the district undertakes another round of spending cuts or approves additional revenues.
The situation makes planning even more difficult , Fernbaugh said, because a state budget doesn’t have to be presented to the legislature until mid-March so the Woodmore board won’t know for certain how much the district is losing from the state until after the deadline for placing a levy on the May ballot.
The board and administration have already compiled a list of spending cuts that could be enacted if another austerity plan is needed, including eliminating field trips, not replacing retiring teachers and laying off teachers, eliminating extra-curricular activities and/or sports, reducing bus routes, and reducing the custodial staff.
Canceling athletic programs would save about $182,108, according to estimates prepared by the administration, while dropping extra-curricular activities would save about $60,811.
But some of those savings could be offset, Fernbaugh said, by the reaction of district residents who might let their children opt to leave Woodmore for neighboring districts that offer sports and other activities – taking their $5,700 in per-pupil state aid with them.
“We’re looking for residents to be aware of what the board is doing,” he said. “So we’ll be asking `Where do you want us to cut?’ We don’t want people to think we’re threatening them with cuts for no reason.”
Reducing the teaching staff through attrition would save between $40,000 and $50,000 per teacher.
The board will also seek public input on a proposed purchase of a Rice Street building in Elmore.
The building owner has offered to sell it to the board for $150,000 and Fernbaugh said the board already has an offer from Diversified Insurance to sign a 10-lease with the board for renting the upper floor for $1,000 a month.
The $12,000 in rental income, coupled with the board saving $800 per month from not having to pay rent to the owner for the lower floor, would result in the district recouping its purchase price in just under seven years.
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